Saturday, October 6, 2012

6 October 1987 - He Died With His Boots On

On 6 October 1987, Roald Jensen, widely considered Norway's greatest player, died while training with his old club, SK Brann. He was 44 years old.

Nicknamed "Knicksen," meaning "juggler," for his tremendous technical ability with the ball, Jensen joined Brann in 1956 as a youth player, then made his first-team debut in 1960 when he was 17 years old. He earned his first cap for the national team that same year.

In his first three seasons with Brann, they won the league twice (1962 and 1963), but his fourth season ended in relegation, prompting his move to Scotland, where he turned professional and became Heart of Midlothian's player from outside the UK.

He remained with Hearts for six seasons, then returned to Brann in 1971 and stayed until 1973, when a dispute with the team's manager led to Jensen's retirement in 1973 at the age of 30. He continued to be involved with the club, however, and was training with them when he collapsed and died.

Three years after his death, the Norwegian football association honored Jensen with the creation of the Knicksen Award, given annually to the best player in Norway's top flight. In 1995, Brann further celebrated him by putting a statue of him outside their stadium.

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